Lifestyle

Spring has sprung

Chef Lisa Odegard has a desire to cook. Her knowledge is broad, her personality is colorful, and her abilities are exceptional. With a passion for sharing knowledge, Odegard is a teaching chef, a menu consultant and a caterer with 11 years in the professional food industry plus a culinary degree from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. She is passionate for local, organic and sustainable food, and has been on the planning committee for the Mercer Island Farmer’s Market. Her extra hours are spent working on other community projects and with regional farms. Odegard will offer cooking classes at the Mercer Island Community Center — a chance to learn to cook from someone whose destiny is the seductive world of food and wine.

When it comes to cooking classes, Odegard excels.

“She has challenged me to step outside my personal limitations on food,” said Brian Owen. “I’ve found that learning to cook has opened many new relationships with friends and family.” Odegard also gives private classes with preparation demonstrations and hands-on learning in private homes. All of her classes include a demonstration, detailed instruction, recipes and a meal. Now that’s a great way to learn how to cook!

Odegard also offers personal chef services. Her specialty is in-home menu consultation and design. She can do all the food shopping, preparation and clean-up. She comes to a client’s home and prepares the meal and packages meals for future dining. Now this is something to consider, as you don’t have to be home when she is cooking.

As a personal chef, Odegard also offers drop-off services. She prepares meals that can be dropped off at your work place or brought to your home. This is a unique gift for new parents, those with health issues and a lovely idea for newlyweds home from the honeymoon.

A new addition to Odegard Epicurean, Odegard’s business, is wine consulting. Her husband, Bryan, has an important role in this aspect of personal chef services.

“Bryan has so much experience with wine and food pairing. I am so glad to have him on board,” said Odegard.

Odegard will be teaching a course called “Quick and Easy Meals” from 6 to 8 p.m. on May 22 at the Community Center at Mercer View. Those who sign up will learn how to make quick gourmet meals without having to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. The class will feature Menu I, consisting of roasted asparagus with truffle salt, corn and crab chowder and a seasonal fruit tart. Menu II includes learning how to make carrot and ginger soup, spiced couscous and black cod with pesto. The “Perfect Picnic Food” class will be held on June 5 and the “Farmer’s Market Meals” class will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. on Aug. 24 for $67. The cost for the “Quick Gourmet Meals” class is $65 and includes tasting all those dishes. Register by calling the MICC at 236-3545. To reach Odegard, call (206) 412-1303 or e-mail lisa@odegardepicurean.com for personal chef services. Visit her Web site at www.OdegardEpicurean.com. Bon Appetit!

CHEF LISA ODEGARD’S SPINACH AND ARUGULA WITH LAVENDER GOAT CHEESE

Don’t be hesitant to make your own dressing — it is simple. Serves 4.

6 oz. spinach

6 oz. arugula

6 oz. goat cheese

1 cup toasted hazelnuts coarsely chopped

1/4 tsp. lavender, minced

Salt and pepper

Mince lavender, then add hazelnuts on top and cover them with a clean towel. Take a meat tenderizer or a small, heavy-bottomed pan and crush the nuts. Take towel off and mix the nuts with the lavender. Cut goat cheese into cylinders and cover each side with nut mixture. Lay two pieces of cheese onto parchment paper and bake until warm; do not bake the cheese too long or it will be too soft to pick up. Toss spinach with balsamic dressing and top with warmed goat cheese.

Dressing

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 TBS. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. chives, minced

1 small shallot, quartered

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

Mix vinegar, Dijon and the shallot together in a blender for 30 seconds. Pour oils together and add to the mixture slowly so that they emulsify. Season to taste with salt and pepper. The reason why you want to add the oil slowly is that the mixture will break apart otherwise, and you would have an oily mixture that does not taste good. Also, do not use extra virgin olive oil, as it will mask the flavor of the balsamic.

CHEF ODEGARD’S SPRING PEA AND THYME SOUP

This is a wonderfully easy springtime soup that tastes delicious. Serves 4.

1 medium onion, sliced

12 oz. peas, very cold

1 qt. chicken stock (can use vegetable stock)

2 TBS. fresh lemon thyme, minced

2 1/2 tsp. Meyer lemon juice

Salt and pepper

Sauté the onions in a two-quart stockpot slowly until they are translucent; do not brown. Add half the thyme. Add stock and simmer until onions are soft. Let stock cool for about 15 minutes. Add stock and cold peas in blender and create the perfect consistency for your taste. When ready to serve, heat soup up gently as to not spoil the brilliant green color. Top with a Meyer lemon zest and lemon thyme sprig.

CHEF ODEGARD’S QUINOA WITH CARAMELIZED ONIONS AND PISTACHIOS

A hint from Chef Odegard: “Feel free to put the pistachios on top of the quinoa instead of incorporating them into the mixture. This will prevent the nuts from becoming soggy.” Serves 5.

2 TBS. olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

4 cloves, garlic

2 1/2 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock

1 cup quinoa

1 1/4 cup pistachios

Salt and pepper

Heat a two-quart saucepot with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat. When olive oil is hot, add diced onions and quickly caramelize; stir a few times. Push garlic through a garlic press and add to onions. Cook for one minute and add stock to onion mixture. Add salt and pepper. Bring stock up to a boil. Slowly add quinoa in a steady stream, stir and turn burner down to low heat. Keep covered and simmer for 15 minutes. Check if quinoa is too dry. If so, add more stock, stirring to incorporate. Turn heat off and keep covered for another 10 minutes. Check seasoning. Add pistachios and serve.

CHEF ODEGARD’S HALIBUT WITH PASTIS CRÈME FRAICHE

Halibut is cooked if the color is opaque (white, milky). To present this dish, top with crème fraiche and add one edible flower. If you would like more color on the dish, you can sprinkle a little diced bell pepper on top too.

Hints from Chef Odegard: “If you cannot find dry cocoa butter, you can look online and order it or use a heavy amount of the solid version in the pan. Also, do not use cheap Pastis (i.e. Pernod or Ricard); it will lend a crude after-taste to your mixture. If you are looking for a delicate hint of flavor, use Henri Boudoin Pastis, Absente or Le Muse Verte - Le Pastis d’ Autrefois. If you are desperate for great Pastis, you can call the Jug Shop in San Francisco and they will ship it to you. I can find wine and spirits there that I cannot find in Washington.” Serves 4

20 oz. fresh halibut cut into wide, 5-oz. portions

1/4 cup dried cocoa butter

1/2 cup crème fraiche

Edible flowers for color

Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Make sure the butcher cuts wide pieces that will prevent the halibut from sticking to the pan. Sprinkle each piece heavily with cocoa butter. Heat a large oven-safe sauté pan. Chef Odegard prefers to use an All Clad pan because it is heavy-duty and can move safely from stove to oven.

Sprinkle a little cocoa butter into pan and add the fish piece by piece. As soon as you add the fish, shake pan so that fish does not adhere to the pan. You want to create an even, browned surface. Leave fish in pan for one minute, then place pan in oven for about four to five minutes. Open the oven and push fish with your finger. If it is soft, take it out of oven and let it rest. You will see juices seep out a little, but that is natural. Do not over-cook the fish.

Crème Fraiche

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup heavy cream

2 TBS. tarragon

2 TBS. Pastis

Salt and pepper

Mix buttermilk and heavy cream together and put in an airtight container. Leave mixture out at room temperature for 24 hours. If you do not want to make your own, you can buy crème fraiche at the store. You can also substitute sour cream, but you need to add a tablespoon of lemon juice to it. Mince tarragon and add to mixture. In addition, add Pastis slowly and taste the mixture. If you don’t want to add all of the pastis, that is fine.

CHEF ODEGARD’S RHUBARB COBBLER

Rhubarb is in season right now, and this dish is a wonderful compliment to any meal as we slowly move from winter into spring. “This recipe tends to be a little tart. If you have a sweet tooth, add another 1/4 cup of sugar to the rhubarb mixture. Vanilla ice cream is a great addition, but I also love Greek Gods Baklava ice cream (a small scoop) on top if I don’t make my own,” said Chef Odegard. “If you should find rhubarb with the leaves on, do not attempt to find a use for them - they are poisonous.” Serves 5.

1 1/2 lbs. fresh rhubarb, diced

3/4 cup superfine sugar

1 1/4 cup pastry, (cake) flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1/8 tsp. cardamom

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/2 TBS. molasses

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 cup oats

1 cup sweet cream butter, cold and diced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine rhubarb with sugar, 1/4 cup pastry flour, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg in a pan and cook on stove at low-medium heat for four to five minutes. Do not add water to the mixture as tempting as it may be. Rhubarb has a high water content (similar to celery). Then, transfer mixture into five wide (not deep), four-inch individual ramekins. In a separate bowl, combine remaining brown sugar, flour, oats, molasses and butter, then mix with your hands or spoon but not a mixer. Crumble mixture on top of rhubarb and bake until topping is bubbly and light brown.

CHEF GABRIEL CABRERA’S HALIBUT CHEEKS WITH PICO DE GALLO

Salty’s at Redondo’s Chef Gabe Cabrera designed this recipe for the “Chef’s Cook Show,” which aired last year on KCTS-TV Channel 9. Tune in on Saturday, May 17, to see the “Viewer’s Cook” 2008 edition, starting at 11 a.m. and replaying at 3 p.m. Many viewers will be sharing recipes.

11/2 lbs. halibut cheeks

1 tsp. kosher salt

PICO DE GALLO

1/2 cup radishes, 1/4-inch dice

1/2 cup English cucumber, seeded, 1/4-inch dice

1/4 cup onion, 1/4-inch dice

1/2 cup watercress, chopped

Juice of 1 lime

1 TBS. canola oil

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 avocado, 1/2-inch slice (garnish)

In medium bowl, combine radishes, cucumber, onion, watercress, lime juice, oil, salt. Set aside. Season halibut cheeks with salt and sear in canola oil over medium-high heat until golden brown on both sides. Arrange seared halibut cheeks on top of mashed potatoes. Crown the halibut cheeks with Pico de Gallo. Garnish with avocado.

RUTH WINSTON’S POPPY SEED COOKIES

When I love something that I am eating, I always ask for the recipe. The same day that I asked for this fabulous cookie, Ruth Winston sent it over. “I will not leave out anything,” said Ruth. Now that’s a good friend!

1/4 cup poppy seeds

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 cup oatmeal, quick cooking

Soak poppy seeds in milk and set aside. Soften butter and beat together with oil, sugars and egg. Beat until light and fluffy.

Mix together flour and baking powder, and add to butter mixture alternately with poppy seed mixture. Stir in oatmeal.

Shape batter into rolls approximately 1 1/2 inches thick, like icebox cookies. Chill. Slice very thin and place on a cookie sheet. Press with fork dipped in milk to make them as thin as possible. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.

Eileen Mintz has been a media, food and restaurant consultant for over 18 years. She can be reached by e-mail at eileenmintz@comcast.net or by phone at 232-1984.

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